tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC September 14, 2015 7:00pm-7:31pm EDT
tonight, from the hungarian border. global emergency. a special live report as hungary seizes control of the borders against the unrelenting mass of refugees. witnessing the mad rush to cross over before the gates shut. entire families who see no other choice. the faces of children who make up so much of the desperate the -- journey. and the danger at home that so many are risking their lives to flee. also, state of emergency. apocalyptic scenes from the massive killer fire in california. the worst all year. at least 400 homes and businesses destroyed and many incinerated. the fast spreading fire making tens of thousands flee. as entire towns go up in flames. nightly news begins
right now. good evening. a dramatic day here in hungary as the flow of migrants and refugees until hours ago had been coming down these tracks at rates of hundreds an hour has been halted. hungry moving troops out of the serbian border to shut down what has been a virtual human highway into the european union. over 7,000 today. it is a major turning point in a crisis defined by heartbreaking and iconic images of children and desperate families risking it all to flee the horrors of war in their homelands. and it comes as other e.u. countries are tightening their own boards in the face of an overwhelming influx of new arrivals. these were among the last refugees to make it across. some families even running, making sure they had truly made it inside hungary before the
door shut. it came with a show of force. police and soldiers forming a human wall as a physical gap in the fence itself was closed. shutting off the unofficial passage through which we have witnessed thousands of refugees enter hungary unchecked. but no more. disappointment and confusion as refugees still on the serbian side were directed to walk to an official check point where some were allowed in and directed on to buses. some are bewildered. >> closing the border is wrong. and putting up a fence doesn't solve the refugee problem. >> earlier, some have h walked 100 miles to budapest, eager to catch trains to the austrian border. >> i feel victory in this moment. >> yesterday, the day rasheed arrived in
hungary, 34 other refugees died at sea on the same route he and his family had taken. all the syrian refugees know about the fate of little aylan kurdi and the photo that made the world pay attention to this crisis. >> you saw that picture? >> yeah. >> why did you make the trip? >> i feel like he's my baby. >> so why did you make this journey, why did you come? >> we are escaping. when i see my kids, my family. >> two of his children became sick on their journey. allowed to rest in this aid tent. >> i am a father also, i have two children. i understand you. >> i understand. >> it is very difficult when you see your, your children suffer something like so in front of your eyes.
>> tonight, with a german aid volunteer jeering the troops, a makeshift steel barrier was put in place on the track leading in hungary. the question for those already here is what barriers lie ahead. >> what do you want the people in europe to know about you and your family? >> i want them to know that we are human beings. we live in homes. we had homes somewhere. and that we came not -- we are not happy to be refugees of war. we are obliged to be refugees of war. it is not a matter of choice. we didn't make this choice. >> hungary said they will start processing asylum requests but warns many of the new arrivals may be deported and those caught evading border controls will be arrested.
tonight germany and austria are also restoring their own border controls. the news had spread down the line among refugees of hungary's threat to close the borders. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel at the border crossing just over a mile away from here has more on the race to get to this side in time. told from the serbian side. richard? >> reporter: good evening, lester. europe is certainly trying to do more to control the borders. this is the serbian side of the hungary border crossing. it is exactly 1.3 miles from where i'm standing to where you are. and it was this critical distance, this last mile that thousands today rushed to cross. >> reporter: with a deadline looming, refugees streamed toward hungary today. at 6:00 p.m., just hours before the border was scheduled to close, they began to run. but they were too late. hungarian police had blocked the border. they tell muhammed to
try another gate so he and his wife, eight months pregnant with twins, their five-year-old, begin to walk. muhammed, a syrian, tells me, if they are sent back, they have nowhere to go. their house in aleppo was bombed. climbing under a fence, the family is confronted by another shock. the second crossing is blocked too. >> you cannot imagine what i feel. i don't know. now, i have no feeling at all. i'm surprised. i'm shocked. >> reporter: many fear their dream of reaching wealthy europe is over. suddenly cheers erupt. an opening. >> people have a hope. nothing else. they hope now they will open the gates for them. that is why everybody hopes they were not able to do nothing. >> they are not giving a lot of information. they are not giving any information. >> reporter: the police were allowing people in. just a few at a time. muhammed crams into
line. pregnant safa is pressed up against a fence. temporarily separated, the family eventually makes it through. where they will end up though, is far from certain. the river of refugees runs north from syria through turkey, greece, hungary, all the way to germany and sweden. today hungary put up a partial dam. so did several other countries. tonight this narrow fenced-in path leads to europe and they are lining up to squeeze through because no one knows when the gate will close again. >> richard, things are moving so quickly here. what happens now? >> reporter: well, there was just an announcement that this border is now closed. we expect it will be open once again tomorrow. but really, just a trickle of people are moving through here. that entire wave of migration that we've been following for the last several weeks has been reduced to one
entryway in this fence, three shoulder-widths wide. so it is much reduced flow of people and expect it will be very large crowds here tomorrow. lester. >> richard engel tonight. thank you. >> and for refugees trying to get to europe, the long trek is terrifying, and even deadly. it was that image of a downed syrian boy that galvanized the world's attention. so why are thousands of men, women and children taking the risk. the answer to that question can be found in one family's story and we're going to warn you here, it is very difficult to watch. here is nbc's keir simmons. >> this is acmed and his two sons. yasser was killed with his mother and sister last month. what happened to the youngest, will be too painful for some to watch. the war in syria has driven 11 million people from their homes. this is why. his family lived outside of damascus in
duma, a town held by rebels. and bombed almost daily by president assad's forces. acmed looks for what is left amid the rubble of his house. at the hospital last month, he said he found horror. his only surviving son, 2-year-old yousef, terribly burned and clinging to life. a kiss from dad. the pain is agonizing. he has to help, to help his muscles recover. now two weeks later he is improving. hope for a little boy who has been through hell. doctors say he will survive, but with no home. no mother, why do families risk everything to flee syria? because it is an even bigger risk to stay. keir simmons, nbc news, london. we know a lot of you seeing these images are wondering how can i help. we have a list of resources available on our website, nbc
news.com. let's turn now to the other major story developing back home. the state of emergency in northern california as a wildfire explodes to twice the size of san francisco already. uncommunity, middletown is wiped off the map. this is the most destructive out of 12 large fires across the state as 11,000 firefighters battle the flames. nbc's miguel almaguer is in the hard-hit community where residents face catastrophic conditions. miguel? >> reporter: lester, good evening. this is the epicenter of the 61,000 acre fire. we are told when it moves through here it was going 15-20 miles per hour. this used to be an massive apartment complex and now all that is left is ash and rubble. to get the true scope, you must look at it from multiple angles. this is one city block but so much of the community looks just like this. firefighters are here tonight working around the clock to look for hot spots and more casualties. this blaze is only 5% contained.
veteran firefighters describe the so-called valley fire as hell on earth. apocalyptic. it moved at speeds few had ever seen before. the most destruct wildfire this year. also the most explosive. 400 homes and hundreds of other buildings in middletown, california, obliterated by a wall of flames. most only had minutes to evacuate. fire ever where. this was the scramble to get out. the heart-pounding race to stay alive. >> as far as i'm concerned, as long as the people get out and the animals get out, everything else is just junk. >> reporter: a 72-year-old woman died in the flames. four firefighters suffered second-degree burns. winds whipped this inferno in every direction. >> when that fire started and began blowing embers in front of it, every ember that was blowing a quarter to a half a
mile in front of the fire ignited a new fire and it became a self-propelling animal. >> reporter: middletown burned all night. by day break, half of the city was ashes. nearly 20,000 forced to evacuate. this family lost nearly everything. >> a whole lifetime of -- of memories, pictures. >> reporter: tonight california is a blowtorch. 12 large wildfires feeding on the drought. more than half a million acres scorched. but the devastation is measured one home at a time. duane harper lost his house but found his cat. >> she's scared but she's okay. this is a big win. >> reporter: for one family, a glimmer of hope, in a landscape of so much loss. miguel almaguer, middletown, california. this is joe fryer at the evacuation center where a tight-knit neighborhood is found
safely in the corner of the county fair grounds. >> when the fire was coming you said the first thing you wanted was the trunk. the possessions are now stored in the back of a pickup truck. >> my son the firefighter, when he was little. >> reporter: she, like so many, rush to outrun a hurricane of fire with flames traveling faster than the speed limits. >> i was terrified. the people that are here we've known for years and they have all lost their homes. and it was a small community and tight knit. >> her son a firefighter was battling another inferno but raced back home but it was too late. >> i was able to see my house and it is a total loss. >> i can't even describe it. it was awful. everything you worked for your whole life. the place you raised your children, it was their home for their whole life. it was just gone. just like that. >> reporter: while robert lost his house, he still has a job. so he'll return to the
front lines hoping to put out the fire that took out his childhood home. >> the things that i may have been able to save, just anything small, i would be so grateful. so if i could do that for somebody else, i will. >> reporter: joe fryer, nbc news, calistoga, california. a manhunt is on tonight after a professor was shot dead on the campus of delta state university in mississippi. police say the suspect is another instructor who may be connected with a death found in her home 300 miles away. the campus is on lockdown but police don't believe the shooter is still there. there is more ahead as we continue. an nbc news exclusive with the former prison worker who aided the prison break that gripped the nation. what she said about the flirtation with one of the two killers and the rumors of a relationship and why she risked everything to help them. and a stunning encounter count on camera. kayakers who got way too close for comfort.
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we're back now with an nbc news exclusive. matt lauer's jailhouse interview with the woman at the center of the prison break that captivated the country. for the first time we're hearing from joyce mitchell, who pled guilty for her role in the escape that sparked a three-week long manhunt. she said it started because she was depressed and unhappy in her marriage. >> david sweat shot a sheriff's deputy 15 times.
so these are two guys that committed heinous crimes. >> yes. >> and these are the guys you allowed yourself to have a friendship with. >> yes. >> speculation has run rampant, joyce, that while mr. matt told you he loved you, that by this point you loved him as well. >> no. it was -- it started out as a flirtation thing. but that is all it ever was. there was never any love between myself and mr. matt. mr. matt had grabbed me a couple of times and kissed me and then there was one point where he had -- i'm sorry. he wanted me to -- >> would you like a tissue? [ crying ]
>> he wanted me to perform oral sex on him, and i said no. and when i said no, he grabbed my head and pushed me down. >> so just to be clear, at no point in this relationship with richard matt was there any, in your opinion, consensual sexual contact between you two. >> it was never consensual. >> and i'm trying to put myself in this position of someone watching this at home. you know what they are saying. she's giving them the tools they are using. >> and she's the monster. >> and she did nothing to stop it. >> i knew i was in way over my head. so i had to keep going with whatever they were saying.
>> joyce mitch speaking there with matt lauer. we're back in a moment with the clerk who denied marriage licenses to same-sex couples. out of jail and back couples. out of jail and back on t with the pain and swelling couples. out of jail and back on t of my moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis... ordinary objects often seemed... intimidating. doing something simple... meant enduring a lot of pain. if ra is changing your view of everyday things orencia may help. orencia works differently by targeting a source of ra early in the inflammation process. for many, orencia provides long-term relief of ra symptoms. it's helped new ra patients and those not helped enough by other treatments. do not take orencia with another biologic medicine for ra due to an increased risk of serious infection. serious side effects can occur including fatal infections. cases of lymphoma and lung cancer have been reported. tell your doctor if you're prone to or have any infection like an open sore, the flu, or a history of copd, a chronic lung disease. orencia may worsen your copd.
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a kentucky county clerk is back on the job opportunity after a judge sent her to jail for several days for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. and she said she will not interfere with the deputies handing out the licenses but the fight doesn't end there. nbc's gabe guiterrez has the latest details. >> kim davis said she won't issue marriage certificates to same-sex couples but will not stop the deputies from doing so. >> i don't want to have this conflict, i don't want to be in the spotlight and i and i certainly don't want to be a whipping post. i'm no hero. >> and she argued the licenses are void without her approval. that doesn't stop shannon and carmen.
>> it never occurred to us it could be legal in our lifetime. >> thank you. >> this morning, a deputy clerk handed them their marriage license without the deputy's signature. >> kim davis said the license you are holding right now is invalid. >> i don't think kim davis gets to decide that. >> davis' lawyers are planning a new lawsuit. >> there are millions of other americans, people of faith, who share the same convictions about marriage. >> but the governor said changing state law to accommodate davis would require a special legislative session before january. >> there is just no need to waste hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers' money to call a special session. >> and he said the licenses are legal. gabe guiterrez, nbc news, moorhead, kentucky. off the coast of california, a breathtaking close call caught on camera. a humpback whale launched out of the water and nearly crushed a pair of kayakers. it happened on saturday as a tour traveled through a
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before we go tonight, some final thoughts. the stories i've heard over the last three days from the people pouring across this border are stories we told you about before. the shelling in aleppo and syria and the tyranny of isis in iraq, and ethnic persecution in afghanistan. except now all of it has landed as one on europe's doorstep. and now instead of seeing it through the eyes of politicians and generals and fighters, we're seeing it through the eyes of weary children facing new lives in a new land. their parents who have made a choice most of us couldn't possibly fathom, to risk unimaginable danger to save the lives of those though hold closest. we come from different cultures and speak different languages. but when you look into the eyes of the refugees who have crossed here, you understand that there is no difference in our inate determination to do what we have to do for the sake of our children. i'm lester holt reporting tonight from